I was there when the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club put rocks in the Yukon River at the old city intake. I told the crane operator where to drop the rocks, below the old intake, downstream, not upstream as suggested in the News article by Sam Riches.
When we started 17 years ago, YCKC was quite naive. We did not realize that only 10 per cent of the money we raised would go to construction; 90 per cent went to consulting, planning, permits and engineering. The water board, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Yukon government, Yukon Energy Corporation, coast guard, City of Whitehorse and many more had input in the project.
I was there when we did the beautification on the old city intake. A couple of people had been caught in the rebar sticking out of the old concrete blocks; we had safety concerns. The concrete was removed and replaced with DFO-approved rocks. Once again we went through the consultation and approval process.
A couple of years later, ice formation on the Robert Service channel diverted the river towards the bank and started the erosion right above the old intake. We walk the trail almost everyday; I took pictures of the river being diverted.
Unfortunately, the erosion created a powerful eddy. Sadly, it caused a few fatalities. A young man was saving his dog, another was saving his son; they had the heart and courage of heroes. A family lost a daughter; it is harsh, sad and devastating.
Years ago, we did not have the fatalities, but then we did not have the access to the river. The Millennium Trail has opened the access to the river; the trail is wonderful with literally thousands of people using it.
Removing the old intake is a simplistic reaction, not a solution. The intake was there long before the powerful eddy appeared. Removing the old intake would only create more erosion downstream and create more powerful eddies, and erosion that could affect the Riverdale bridge.
The old intake is now fish habitat, and great training and recreation area for boaters and anglers. Last summer, YCKC had three youth programs and one adult program at the old city intake. Wilderness outfitters and schools use the area as training ground.
Yes, we could reduce the risks; we could manage better this section of river to make it safer; we could also improve training for boaters and anglers.
Eight years ago, YCKC sent a couple members to a river restoration conference in Colorado. We talked to engineers and experts in hydrology. We brought them up to Whitehorse to look at the Yukon River. They created a mock-up plan of the river in Whitehorse.
They have solutions to resolves our concerns and issues. The river is federal; the land belongs to the Yukon government. The City of Whitehorse, DFO, coast guard, Yukon Energy and many others need to be involved.